Book review: 『犯人のいない殺人の夜』by Keigo Higashino

About the book:

Titre: 『犯人のいない殺人の夜』(はんにんのいないさつじんのよる), Collection of Short Stories 1
Author: Keigo Higashino 東野圭吾
Published by 光文社文庫

This is a collection of short stories that were first published between 1985 and 1988 in different magazines. In other words, these short stories were written by Higashino at the very start (1985) of his career.

There are three volumes of short stories published by Kobunsha: 『犯人のいない殺人の夜』, 『怪しい人びと』and 『あの頃の誰か』.


Not only did I love these short stories, but I was also glad to read some of Higashino’s first writings. All the short stories are entertaining, easy to read, suspenseful, and Keigo Higashino always manages to surprise his reader at the end, even in a 40 pages short story.

That being said, I don’t consider this collection to be the best I have read. I prefered 『嘘をもうひとつだけ』or 『探偵倶楽部』which are also collections of short stories. In these two books we follow the same detectives throughout the stories: Kyoichiro Kaga in the first one and the Membership Detective Club in the second one.

But I really enjoyed reading 『犯人のいない殺人の夜』. I need to read more books by Keigo Higashino to confirm this, but I think that I particularly like his writings from the 1980s and 1990s. While I found some of the short stories better than others, I also found that they all had this particular style that I love so much in Keigo Higashino’s books.

I read this book very fast and could not put it down once I started a short story. If you like short murder mysteries,『犯人のいない殺人の夜』is a good choice!

Book review: 『首折り男のための協奏曲』by Kotaro ISAKA

About the book

Title: 『首折り男のための協奏曲』(くびおり おとこ の ための きょうそうきょく)
Author: Kotaro ISAKA 伊坂幸太郎
Published by 新潮文庫

『首折り男のための協奏曲』is a collection of short stories that Kotaro ISAKA wrote for different magazines. But even though the stories were written as independent stories, put together in the same book, they resonate with one another and create a “謎の工芸品” (mysterious craftwork), as the author says himself (p.429).


The author writes at the end of the book that all the stories of 『首折り男のための協奏曲』were written independently for different magazines. He said he had to answer to prompts like “恋愛ものを” or “怪談話を” which explains why the stories are so different in structure. While he hadn’t thought of putting all these stories together in the same book at first, he was surprised to see how strangely well they resonate together once the project of『首折り男のための協奏曲』was settled.

I think that this is exactly how the reader must read this book: these are short stories, but put together, they gain an additional dimension.

The problem is that nothing on the book indicates that they are short stories, and the summary on the back cover even makes you think that you are reading a novel and that everything will come together in the end.

Because of that, I was looking for clues that could not be there. I was trying to understand how this could be the same story, and given that some characters return from story to story, it took me some time before I realise that I was not reading a novel.

When I realised it, I was a little disappointed, but I could also fully appreciate what I was reading without constantly thinking “but this does not make sense”.

As for the stories in themselves, they were all very good, some were particularly engrossing (首折り男の周辺、合コンの話), some I found really brilliant (漏れ衣の話、人間らしく).

Not all, but almost all of them have a hidden trick in them. As a result, there is always this moment when, understanding that hidden mechanism, I was baffled by the author’s talent. But on the other hand, this made the stories a little difficult to read in Japanese! My favourite story is 月曜日から逃げろ but it took me some time before I understood the hidden trick. I was re-reading several times the same passages because something didn’t make sense, and I was thinking that my Japanese level was at fault.

This is the first book I read by Kotaro ISAKA, and I am now wondering if all his books are so inventive. I am a little irritated at the publisher who makes you think that it is a novel and that everything will come together at the end in a surprising way. I feel that it spoiled my reading and appreciation of this book with useless expectations. If I had read these stories as independent short stories from the beginning, I would have enjoyed them better.

Book review:『ノッキンオン・ロックドドア』by Yugo AOSAKI

About the book:

English title: Knockin’on Locked Door
Author: Yugo AOSAKI 青崎有吾
Published by 徳間文庫

『ノッキンオン・ロックドドア』is a collection of 7 short stories. A second season is announced.

The publisher made a mini site for this novel that presents the story and the characters. There is also a special comic by Aco ARISAKA 有坂あこ.


Hisame KATANASHI and Tori GOTENBA are two detectives who work in the same agency: Knockin’on Locked Door. Hisame is specialised on the “why” the crime was committed (what is the motive?) while Tori is specialised in solving “how” the crime was committed (what trick was used?). While they both excel in their speciality, they are lost when it comes to the other one’s area.


There are several things that I loved in this book and it was a refreshing, light and entertaining read!

First of all, I love the idea of having two detectives, each specialised in one aspect of what it takes to solve a murder. It feels so new! It is also interesting to see how Hisame and Tori complement each other: asking suspects, inspecting the crime scenes, looking for out of place details… each detective focuses on his speciality and leave the rest to the other.

I also liked the structure of the book. There are 7 stories (7 cases) and each is around 40 pages. I like the consistency of this structure. For each story, we jump in the case right from the beginning (either a client comes to the agency or the police asks for the detectives’ help), and they were all engrossing.

Another touch that I liked very much is how the narrator changes. Some stories are told from the point of view of Tori and some from the point of view of Hisame. It is interesting to see what each detective thinks of the other! And again, it feels refreshing and new.

Finally, I liked the humour and the general tone of the book.

If you like mystery novels, solving puzzle, and are looking for a light, entertaining read, you will certainly like 『ノッキンオン・ロックドドア』 !

Book Review: 『メゾン・ド・ポリス』by Miaki KATO (加藤実秋)


Title: 『メゾン・ド・ポリス』(maison de police)
Author: Miaki KATO (加藤実秋)
Published by 角川文庫

There are three books so far in the series 『メゾン・ド・ポリス』. The first book was published in 2018 and the third one just came out (February 2019). There is also a drama adaptation.

『メゾン・ド・ポリス』is a novel but it contains 5 different stories, all devoted to a different case.


Hiyori MAKINO is a young female police officer who struggles to find her place in the criminal division (刑事課) where she has been working for only 3 months.

“Maison de Police” is a house where several retired police detectives live together as flatmates. They have left the world of crime beyond them, but when Hiyori comes to consult them on an old case, they start to investigate again.

Review: Light and easy read, interesting characters

I loved『メゾン・ド・ポリス』, it is one of my favourite books in Japanese.

First of all, I liked the unique setting of the book: with its bunch of retired detectives, it felt new and refreshing.

I also liked the overall tone of the novel. It is a light read, the author does not give a realistic account of a police investigation with all its different procedures, which can be burdensome to read in a foreign language. In this novel, the headquarter is the Maison de Police, and its inhabitants work much like private detectives to help Hiyori solve mysterious cases.

As each story is short (around 60 pages), the author focuses on the plot, without much descriptions or introspection, which makes it easy to read.

Another thing that I really enjoyed is that the cases are serious ones. When mystery novels have a light tone, they sometimes have light mysteries to crack, and I don’t feel very committed to them. In 『メゾン・ド・ポリス』, Hiyori works at the criminal division, so reading this novel feels like reading a police/detective fiction rather than simply mystery fiction, if that makes sense… I find that the author cleverly managed to mix a light tone and serious cases, and I loved the book because it has these two dimensions.

The characters are very interesting, and I felt I wanted to know more about them and their past. I will definitely read the second tome of the series.

To sum up, I would say that this novel is a good one for Japanese learners. It is relatively easy to read, it contains five short stories so you can take a break between them. The stories are suspenseful enough to encourage you to keep going even if reading in Japanese is challenging.

Note for Japanese learners: while I found the first 4 stories easy, the 5th one is more difficult. The writing style is the same, but the case is more complicated. But if you have read the first 4 stories, you will be able to read the last one too!

I also recommend to make a list of the main characters and a list for each story, or you might be overwhelmed with names.

I made a quick sketch of the cover to remember the names of the main characters.

Trailer of the drama:

Book Review: 『向田理髪店』by Hideo OKUDA 奥田英朗


Title: 『向田理髪店』(Barber Mukouda)
Author: Hideo OKUDA (奥田英朗)
Published by 光文社文庫

『向田理髪店』 is a novel that contains 6 chapters written between 2013 and 2016. Each chapter is a different story, but they all feature the same characters and are in chronological order.


Tomazawa is a little coal mine town in Hokkaido. Like many other similar towns, it flourished during the 19th Century but lost its vitality and most of its appeal when the energy policy changed and the coal mines shut down. Most of the youth left the town to Sapporo or even Tokyo.

Our protagonist is Yasuhiko MUKOUDA, one of the two barbers of Tomazawa. He was 28 when he came back from Sapporo to his native town and take over the shop. He is now 53-year-old, lives with his wife and mother and has two grown-up children.

If Tomazawa has lost its glory, its vitality, its youth and most of its population, those who stayed or returned, know how to make the most of any event.

Why I loved it

『向田理髪店』is an extraordinary heartwarming story, I loved every single page of it. We get to share the lives of Tomazawa inhabitants, get exciting or worried about the same things, get involved in their disputes and share their comradeship.

I liked how the stories depict real problems of towns like Tomazawa: the ageing population, the lack of public services, the lack of youth and the difficulty to get married… But Hideo OKUDA is a fantastic storyteller and all the stories in this novel made me either smile or got me involved.

I liked all the stories, but my favourites are 中国からの花嫁, 小さなスナック and 赤い雪. The story 小さなスナック was particularly funny, I loved it.

In the end, I felt like I was myself a part of Tomazawa, and I wish that there more stories to read… I highly recommend it!

Book review: 『ジャッジメント』by Yuka Kobayashi


Title: 『ジャッジメント』(Judgement)
Author: Yuka KOBAYASHI (小林 由香)
Published by 双葉文庫 (Futaba bunko)

『ジャッジメント』is Yuka KOBAYASHI’s first novel. It is a short novel of 284 pages. While it has a single narrator that evolves throughout the chapters, each of the five chapters is devoted to a different and independent story.

The setting

The story is set in a fictive Japan where two justice systems coexist. The law as it is now, and the law of retaliation that was implemented to respond to the increase of violent crimes in the last years. The injured party (mostly, the family of the victim) can choose between the two systems. If they choose the law of retaliation, they can avenge themselves on the guilty party in a special facility for executions. Our narrator, Ayano TORITANI, works there. He is in charge of the injured party, follows them as they make their choice and supervises the execution.

Why I loved it

I chose this book because I like reading novels about justice and morality, particularly novels that question the death penalty. By creating a fictional setting where the law of retaliation is implemented, Yuka KOBAYASHI initiates interesting discussions about what is right and what is a good justice.

While the setting and the cover made me think that the novel would contain elements of violence, this book is not at all a horror story. On the contrary, the novel uses the themes of vengeance and retribution to analyse the complexity of human relationships, especially inside the family. I was surprised to see that the book has much more depth than I expected.

The five stories are told from the point of view of the victim’s family or close relations. I found each of the story very sad, and the book is certainly not a light-hearted read. While it reads like a page-turner, I often had to close the book and take a break!

This book is thought-provoking and won’t leave you indifferent. I was sometimes sad, sometimes angry, and I sometimes wished that the characters had made another choice. In any case, I loved 『ジャッジメント』and I will certainly read Yuka KOBAYASHI’s second novel 『罪人が祈るとき』.

Book review: 『推理作家(僕)が探偵と暮らすわけ』by Shiki KUZUMI

This is my review of the light novel『推理作家(僕)が探偵と暮らすわけ』by Shiki KUZUMI (久住四季).

This novel tells the story of Jun TSUKISE, a young author of detective novels, and his new flatmate Seishiro RINDO, a private detective. By the setting only, it is impossible not to think of John Watson and Sherlock Holmes, and the story soon confirms that it is indeed inspired by the BBC series.

If you have watched Sherlock, you will find numerous allusions and hints to it in Kuzumi’s novel. From the personality of both protagonists to the details of their first meeting, the novel keeps echoing the British series.

To be honest, it bothered me a little at first; I had preferred something more original. But soon it became obvious that despite many similitudes, Jun and Seishiro are unique characters, not just copies of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ depiction of John and Sherlock. Moreover, the cases they solve are fresh and new.

I found the book very entertaining and almost impossible to put down once I started it. It is easy to feel sympathy for the narrator Jun, and I liked the insights into a writer’s life and work. I also liked the humour in the book and while I was not entirely convinced by the cases, they were intriguing enough to keep me engrossed until the end.

If you like reading light novels and detective stories, or/and if you like the BBC series Sherlock and would like to read something similar but with a Japanese touch, you will certainly like this novel. I found it easy to read in Japanese too, though the second story (there are two chapters and two cases) was a little more difficult than the first one.

This book looks very much like the beginning of a series, and I will definitely read the following volume if, or hopefully when, it comes out!

Book review: 『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』by En MIKAMI

(I don’t usually post book reviews on Friday, but I will certainly take some holidays at the end of the month, so if I want to publish all my book reviews before the end of the year, I will have to post twice a week!)

I have finished 『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』by En MIKAMI (三上延) and I loved it! It is a light novel published by メディアワークス文庫 (Kadokawa) and as such, it is easy to read, even for Japanese learners.

The Book and the Story

『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』is a novel, but it is divided into 4 chapters that each contains an independent story. I like this structure very much because the book, while being a novel, allows you to take a break between two chapters without feeling lost when you return to it.

The story is simple enough: the young Daisuke meets the owner of a used bookstore, the beautiful and mysterious Shioriko. Together, they will solve mysteries brought by the clients of the bookstore. Hence the subtitle of the book: “栞子(Shioriko)さんと奇妙な客人たち”.

To be honest, I was a little afraid that the story would evolve into an obvious romantic relationship between the two protagonists, but it does not: the novel is a mystery novel, not a romance.

And the mysteries are quite good, too. I was unable to put down the book once I started a chapter, and I have usually read a whole chapter in only one or two reading sessions. Once you start, you want to know what happened, and you cannot stop reading!

As I said, each chapter is devoted to a mystery, and this mystery is always linked to a book. You absolutely don’t need to have read these books to enjoy the story, you don’t even need to know who the authors are. Daisuke, the protagonist, has a physical condition that makes him unable to read. As a consequence, he has read none of the books that appear in the story, and if the contents of the book is important, Shioriko will explain it to him. So no need to have studied Japanese literature! 

A light novel

I still don’t know how to define a “light novel”. All I know is that I have read three this year, and they were all easy to read. If we take the definition that author Emi KITAGAWA gives of a “light novel” 「とにかく楽しいもの」, then I can say that 『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』is a perfect light novel: this book was highly entertaining, enjoyable and pleasant to read.

I highly recommend this book to Japanese learners. The Japanese level is not high, there is enough suspense to keep you reading even if you stumble across a difficult part, the plot progresses quickly, no long descriptions or narrative passages, a lot of dialogues, a limited number of characters, and so on. 


As a Japanese learner trying to read novels in Japanese, this book was one of the most pleasant experiences of the year. Of course, I feel rewarded if I can read my way through a challenging book, but being able to forget that I am reading in a foreign language and simply enjoy the story is also extremely rewarding.

I am tempted to read the other books of the series, but there are so many interesting titles on the メディアワークス文庫 site, that I might pick another one next time!

Book Review: 『探偵倶楽部』by Keigo HIGASHINO

There are 5 short detective stories in 『探偵倶楽部』(The Membership Detective Club – たんていくらぶ) by Keigo HIGASHINO (東野圭吾) and I loved every single one of them!

The stories all feature the Membership Detective Club, but the detectives are not the protagonists. The stories mainly focus on the people that are involved or find themselves involved in a murder case. The police is also playing a part in some of the stories, creating a tension between people trying to hide things, police officers who try to solve the case, and the detective agency working in the shadows.

But what is really amazing in these stories is the the complexity of the case. You would think that a detective story of 50-60 pages can only have a straightforward plot because there is no room for plot twists, but Higashino is able to condense a very complex story in a few pages. I have been surprised in every single short story because the end turned out to be very different from what I expected. I always consider myself blessed when I can enjoy a good plot twist in a detective novel, but being offered 5 in a row is a real delight!

Each short story is like a detective novel that would have been squeezed to extract only the essential information surrounding the murder and the investigation. Of course, I enjoy novels where the characters and the setting are well built, where the reader gets involved and where the relationships between the characters evolved and so on. But sometimes, I just want to know who done it and how, I don’t want the author to describe every object of the room, and I cannot wait to read the final revelation. If you feel like that, you should read 『探偵倶楽部』!

To give you an example of how exciting the short stories are, the second short story “罠の中” opens on the discussion of three persons planning the murder of a fourth one. We don’t know the names of the would-be criminals and we don’t know who they intend to murder and how. We only have a little indication. Then we are at a dinner party with ten or so participants. We know that the murder will happen there, but we don’t know who will be involved and how it will be done. That’s exactly the kind of stories I want to read!

Last but not least, a word about the Japanese difficulty of this book. It is not more difficult than other books by Higashino, but I found that there was a lot of names to remember. Especially in the first two short stories where all the persons are introduced almost at the same time. If you like short stories, you could also have a look at the sixth book of the Detective Kaga series called 『嘘をもうひとつだけ』. I remember that it was much easier to read than 『探偵倶楽部』. 

To conclude, I loved this book, and I found it very refreshing to read short stories, even if it is not usually my favourite genre!

Book review: 嘘をもうひとつだけ by 東野圭吾

「嘘をもうひとつだけ」is the 6th book of the Kaga series 加賀恭一郎シリーズ by Higashino Keigo. If you are not familiar with this series, it features detective 加賀恭一郎 Kaga Kyoichiro and is composed of 10 books. The first novel of the series was one of the first novels written by Higashino Keigo (「卒業」was published in 1989*) and the last one 「祈りの幕が下りる時」is very recent since it was published in 2016.

Why I love this series

I really like detective Kaga because he is very different from other contemporary detectives that all seem to share the same flaws: bad temper, tobacco or alcohol problem (if not worse), a haunting past, very disagreeable manners and tone, conflicting relation with hierarchy, impossible personality and so on.

Kaga Kyoichiro is, on the contrary, described as a very polite person, always using the most beautiful honorific language. To be honest, as every Japanese learner maybe, I have always been unwilling to learn the honorific verbs and expressions. But, reading several books featuring Kaga somewhat made me see the honorific language as something cool and something I want to master.

The fact that Kaga has been a kendo champion also plays on his personality. He is always calm and composed, observes the opposite party and asks relevant questions. His investigation is very thorough. If he sometimes seems to know everything, it is the result of a careful and methodical investigation associated with some logical deduction.

Another point that makes detective Kaga different from other police detectives is that he is often seen from the point of view of another character. As a consequence, it is difficult to know what he thinks, what conclusions he has reached and who he suspects. This is even truer given that we often see Kaga, not from the point of view of a colleague, but from the point of view of the suspect or one of the suspects. This is to me the most interesting feature of the series. The reader finds himself or herself on the side of the suspects and Kaga’s appearances, questions and deductions are quite frightening.

Why you can start by 「嘘をもうひとつだけ」

As I said in the introduction, 「嘘をもうひとつだけ」is the 6th book of the series. However, if you want to read one book of the series without really wanting to read all the novels, this one is a good choice.

First of all, 「嘘をもうひとつだけ」is not a novel but a collection of short stories. They are not supposed to happen before or after the other stories, even though the first short story hints at the second novel of the series by saying that Kaga is familiar with the world of the ballet. But this is just a detail that does not matter at all for the understanding of the story. Therefore, you don’t need to have read the other novels to read this collection of short stories, and nothing in it will spoil the previous cases.

Furthermore, these short stories are a great presentation of detective Kaga. To me, they could be trailers for the series, showing how Kaga works and providing a condensé of the most exciting moments of a detective novel: the discovery of the crime scene, the interrogation of the suspect, the final confrontation, etc. In fact, I think that you could read this book to see whether you like or not this style and if you do, go on with the other novels.

Why 「嘘をもうひとつだけ」 is easy to read for Japanese learners

I already said that some novels by Higashino Keigo were relatively easy to read. It is even more applicable to「嘘をもうひとつだけ」because it has the advantage of being short. The whole book is only 269 pages long, and each of the 5 short stories is around 50 pages long. They are mainly composed of dialogues, which makes them even easier to understand.

Another thing that greatly facilitates the understanding is that they are all structured more or less in the same way, with very little characters involved. Either the story is entirely composed of a long dialogue between Kaga and another character (the first and the last short stories), either the story follows the same pattern: it opens with one character confronted with a murder, and detective Kaga will appear several times, resulting in the story being composed of several dialogues, flashbacks and some short narrative parts.


The reason why I loved 「嘘をもうひとつだけ」is because they really feature detective Kaga. Even if he is not the central character of the stories, he is very present, contrary to the 5th and 6th book of the series. The cases were very intriguing too and even if I do prefer reading long novels, reading this book was very entertaining, and I highly recommend it!

* The publication date is the one from 講談社文庫